Parents, students, get free help applying for college financial aid

Parents of students who plan to continue their education after high school can get help at a workshop to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as FAFSA. On Feb. 12, Financial Aid Representatives will help students and parents fill out the form online in the computer lab at the Warren County Career Center. The workshop will begin at 6 p.m.

Federal and state financial aid programs use the FAFSA as part of the calculation to determine whether or not a student qualifies, and how much aid a student needs. Even if the college, university, or technical school has its own formula for determining the aid package, they use this application to calculate how much need-based aid will be available.

“The workshop is great for people who are doing this for the first time,” noted John Bonavita, the Career Center counselor. “If they bring all their information to the workshop, they can complete the form and submit it on the spot. When people register I provide a checklist of everything they need to bring to complete the form. Even if they can’t finish the application that night, it is much easier to go back and fill in the rest of the information when you know how to navigate around the form.”

The application is available on the Internet at fafsa.ed.gov or on the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency Web site PHEAA.org/FAFSA. The PHEAA site also provides checklists and helpful information. Filling out the form online is faster than using the paper version. It also tells you if you have made an error or omitted information. This allows you to make corrections immediately, reducing the chance that your application might be rejected.

The deadline for applying for state financial aid is May 1, however most colleges and other schools have much earlier due dates. If a family does not have all the information ready for the workshop they can fill out the form and go back later to add new information as it becomes available.

Space for the Feb. 12 workshop is limited. To register, call Mr. Bonavita at 726-1260.